I’m quite exhausted from this week! Since my last post, rehearsals for ‘Oliver’ have been properly organised and put into action. This is much better as it means that the classroom music lessons at the Shri Ram secondary school are not divided between rehearsing for the musical and learning the basics of music theory. It also means all of the singers are together in one room instead of rehearsed separately in batches. We’ve established quite a full-on schedule of 3 rehearsals per week for these 13 and 14 year olds. Yesterday the Shri Ram students came to the private music school IMD to use the facilities so I worked with the choir whilst other teachers helped the piano and guitar students. The excitement of being taken to the music school made the children eager to learn and this enthusiasm reflected in their music making.
I’m keen to establish a choir at both IMD and Shri Ram because at present there is no ensemble music-making in either school. At Shri Ram this would help to embed music into the school as a fun activity and provide an outlet for so many of the students who are keen to sing in music lessons. It would work in counterpoint to the music lessons themselves which I am reluctant to let become solely singing classes especially because there is so much else to cover! Although we do use singing in the classroom lessons, having a choir would be a positive environment for singers who are keen to take part. At IMD, I’d like to set up a choir because a lot of the students who take singing lessons have difficulty in sight singing. Mostly, this is because they are learning from lyric sheets instead of music and have music theory as a separate element to the class. I’m trying to change this as I think that learning notation and should be incorporated into the singing. Still, in establishing a choir the singers will need to read quickly and have fun doing so as a group.
I’m doing very little piano teaching but am getting stuck into composition teaching which is mostly on a one-on-one basis. This week I’ve been teaching how to compose a melody using chords I,IV and V. Most of the students have a good basic knowledge of theory but are used to arranging rather than writing their own music so this has been quite new to them. Next week I’m going to be looking at how to create structure in composition.
My thought for this week has been inspired by one of my students at Shri Ram who was misbehaving and not doing his work in a class I was teaching about musical instruments of the orchestra. When I asked the little boy why he wasn’t working, he said this was because he didn’t see the point in studying this because he was never going to see an orchestra or play in one. Although my reply to my student was that this didn’t matter because it is still important to learn about different instruments so he can appreciate them when he hears them in films and grow up to be more inquiring, I thought he did have a point in questioning the cultural relevance of western classical music in Indian culture. Instruments other than piano, guitar and drums are rarely taught in Gurgaon/Delhi as there is no demand for them. Similarly there are no orchestral concerts here: the majority of concerts are fusion bands, Hindi pop or Indian classical. Rather than teaching exclusively western instruments such as piano, guitar I’ve been thinking that IMD should have staff who specialise Indian classical instruments so that the children can learn music born from their own culture. Still, since western pop is so ubiquitous here it is fruitful to expose them to western classical too, albeit as a complement to Indian classical music, not a substitute.